Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Panics Attack

I've had panic attacks before, but not as bad as the one I had Sunday. I was sitting in front of my computer writing some memories, some opinions, some (I hope) funny stuff when all of a sudden I began misspelling words, not only misspelling them, not making typos, but writing words, even spelled correctly that didn't make sense with the rest of what I was trying to write.

Now, some folks are likely to tell you the most recent one is the worst they have ever had, and for a lot of them it's true, because a panic attack is a very personal thing. A panic attack is like someone following you meaning to do you harm. You never know where or when it may strike, and the first thing which pops into the head of someone observing is that it must be drugs, next thing is an epileptic seizure and the third misconception is a heart attack. I don't have a cite for these statements, it's my conjecture and whether I'm right or wrong I will leave up to you, the reader.

Sometimes I may get a short warning of an impending attack. A short "reminder" of a previous one will trigger the beginning of a panic response from me. Looking up at a tall building in downtown Atlanta is one, riding my bicycle over a very long bridge over the ocean (like the one in Panama City Beach) is another. I fought that response by skydiving but since that time, they've "snuck in" without warning.

It's "fight or flight" time, friends.

"Meanwhile back at the farm", I'm sitting here becoming more and more anxious because I can't understand what's going on and I'm afraid I'm losing my grip. "Give it some time, breathe into that paper bag lying next to the desk, think about something else, and then just let yourself relax".

Nothing.

And this time it was way different. This time I couldn't swallow. It's like I had to tell myself  "SWALLOW, DAMMIT!!!'
.

It kept getting worse and worse to the point where I was making these little mewling sounds in the back of my throat. This happened before - about 3 years ago, I think, and what I thought then as I did this time, is to drink water, lots of water until it went away, but this time that wasn't the answer. So on the ER doctor's instruction I began sucking on some hard candy, which helped me to swallow as long as i was eating candy. It got so bad to the point of being out of breath and so I began using Dondra's oxygen, which also helped. Next came posture: I had to sit still with my head tilted slightly forward and try to swallow that way.

I finally got so short of breath and exhausted I had to lie down flat, and that seemed also to help. I don't know how, but I finally dropped off to sleep and when I woke up I was much better except for a rattling in my chest and a swollen tongue.

So when I felt like I could, I got up and did some more reading: what could cause this????

1. A series of mini-strokes (also called TIA's), and

2. Onset of Parkinson's Disease and a few other things seemingly unrelated. But it was the Parkinson's that got my attention

I expect to undergo another MRI and bloodwork, to see if we can pin it down, but for now that is where I stand with this.
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Have you ever had a panic attack? I have had less than 10, but was always able to "talk myself down". This time it was a mite different. This time I thought "It's all over for the German boy."

Having worked in the ER of our local hospital, I have seen my share of both sexes brought in with either a migraines or panic attack. More often than not, what I would hear from my colleagues (or even the doctors sometimes) were the words, "Drama Queen/King", Prima Donna" and "Drug Seeker", and this was before anyone had even seen the patient!

Never, ever let some doctor or nurse tell you "It's all in your mind." It may very well begin that way, but if it continues, it can cause all kinds of nasty little problems and if up till then you didn't have those problems, "Well hellllooo! We'd like to introduce ourselves: I'm tachycardia and my friend over there is V-Fib. Tachycardia is defined as a rapid heart beat and ventricular fibrillation (V-Fib) is what will happen if you don't slow that fast heart beat down. Tachycardia + V-Fib - Prevention = (possible) Death."

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, but I speak from 17 years of experience, and I know what can happen when you blow off a panicked patient with "It's all in your head", so don't let them tell you that and send you home. There are many ways to test your heart to see if it's in trouble. Remember too, an Electrocardiogram may show normal at the time of the test, but that may be a false negative, and often the heart can fix its rhythm to appear normal. Not all the time, but some of the time.
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And speaking of the heart.....

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The Animal Rescue Site

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